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Two Hubbard city councilors resign on heels of mayor's resignation
Hubbard City Councilors Shannon Schmidt and Bradley Williams resigned from their posts on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Both of their resignations come days after former Mayor Thia Estes resigned on Sept. 28.
Thia Estes' husband Dan Estes also resigned from his position on the city's planning commission the evening of Oct. 2.
All four resignations come soon after KOIN 6, a news partner of the Woodburn Independent, aired a story on Sept. 27 about a Hubbard family whose property experienced major flooding, reportedly as the result of a neighboring development.
For more coverage, see Flashpoint flooding: Hubbard development leads to severe flooding, political divisiveness
Both Schmidt and Williams alluded to the KOIN 6 story in their resignation statements.
Schmidt wrote, "I protest the lying, the hostility, and the ugly behavior that has been displayed. These are people who do not question their local government for the greater good, they are people who instead criticize and attack for their own self-serving interests."
Schmidt did not clarify in the resignation statement who she was referring to.
Williams did directly refer to the KOIN 6 story, saying that he thought it inappropriate that the city submitted a press release to the news station without mayoral approval.
Most of Williams' reason for resigning stemmed from the city's consideration of contracting policing services with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, a move that drew backlash from the town's residents. Williams had been in favor of considering the contract, a proposal that eventually died after the city council decided in July this year to move forward with hiring a police chief.
Williams said he had been interested in the MCSO proposal as a fiscal conservative.
"You would think that Republicans, who are supposed to value fiscal conservancy, would have at least wanted to hear the proposal and wait for debate and analysis before coming to any conclusions," Williams wrote. "However, that did not happen. Civil discourse was shouted down immediately, by Hubbard Republicans. Any attempts at reason were met with false accusations and vitriol."
Both Williams and Thia Estes were the focus of recall petitions started in July 2017 by resident Justin Dryden, son of former Hubbard Police Chief Dave Dryden.
Dryden's petition against Estes accused the mayor of "crippling our effective police department through willful failure to hire a chief, pursuing Marion County Sheriff contracts against the will of the majority, spending over twice the annual legal budget on the city attorney in six months, and her failure to promote harmonious and working relationships with city council, staff and residents."
The prospective petition for Williams listed the same reasons, stating that Williams would be recalled for "fully supporting the mayor's agenda to willfully cripple and dissolve our effective police department."
In his resignation statement, Williams listed the reasons for considering the MCSO contract and counterarguments to many of the claims residents made against considering contracting with the Sheriff's office.
"I'm sure some will say that these arguments are a moot point because the City has chosen to hire a Chief of Police. That's true," Williams wrote in the statement. "However, I want you to understand my reasoning for holding out on this issue for as long as I did. The fact is HPD was crippled when 3/5 of the department retired within the span of 5 months, not by anything the Mayor or I did."
Had Estes and Williams not resigned, the recall against both elected officials would have likely gone to a ballot this coming Election Day. Dryden said he and other volunteers had garnered more than the 111 signatures needed before the Oct. 10 deadline for each petition for the issues to go to a vote.
Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess said in an interview before Estes' and Williams' resignations that assuming the petitions were turned in on time, the required signatures were verified and the mayor or city councilor didn't resign, the recall elections would go up for vote in the Nov. 7 election.
Dan Estes also wrote about a disillusionment with the city's politics in his resignation statement.
"As a volunteer, I feel that I should no longer represent the interests of a city body whose remaining two elected representatives sicken me with their divisiveness. And as a volunteer, I am free to decide how I spend my time and what behavior I will tolerate," Dan Estes wrote.
According to his resignation statement, Dan Estes has served on the city's Planning Commission for 10 years.
According to Chad Jacobs, the attorney for the city of Hubbard, it will be up to the remaining City Council members to fill the mayoral and city council vacancies.
Because the city charter defines the mayor as a member of City Council, the process of filling a vacancy is the same for the mayor and city council positions.
"To make this appointment, the council will need to meet and determine what process they would like to follow," Jacobs wrote in an email on Friday. "What process will be followed will most likely be determined by the Council when it meets next."
Jacobs said on Tuesday that the city charter defines the city council as existing of a mayor and four councilors, or in the case of one or more vacancies, the council members whose offices are not vacant.
That means in the case of the mayor position and two councilor seats being vacant, the council consists of two members. The charter defines a quorum as being a majority of the council, meaning that with the current vacancies, the quorum is two.
Two councilors — Angie Wheatcroft and Barbara Ruiz — remain.
A special city council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 5:30. The only item on the agenda is "Recognizing City Council vacancies and providing direction to staff regarding process to fill such vacancies."
Councilor Wheatcroft submitted the following statement on Tuesday in response to the resignations:
As Hubbard's City Council is democratically elected, each council member is charged with doing what is best for the city. I am deeply saddened by the vitriol directed at the remaining members but I care about the community and want it to continue to be the great community it has always been. I am looking forward to bringing on a new mayor and city council that have the best interest of the city at heart. Although it is going to take time I am confident, that together, we can help the city begin to heal.
The special city council meeting was held on the evening of Oct. 3 with the remaining two councilors. Every seat in the council chamber was taken by attendees. The meeting lasted just over one minute.
The councilors moved to accept applications for the three vacancies, which will be considered at next week's regular city council meeting on Oct. 10.
"Because we don't have anyone besides Barb (Ruiz) and I right now, we're looking to get those positions filled rather rapidly, so we're looking to get that done by the 10th," Wheatcroft said.
The applications for the positions can be picked up at city hall (3720 2nd St. in Hubbard) or can be found on the city of Hubbard's website here.
The appointed mayor's term will last through Dec. 31, 2018, while one of the councilor positions' term will last through Dec. 31, 2018, and the other councilor position's term will last through Dec. 31, 2020.
Schmidt's complete statement
It was truly an honor to serve with such a wonderful person who gave so much of her time and heart to our community. This is such a loss to our community. I'm truly ashamed of what we have had to put up with.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter declaring my resignation from Hubbard City Council. When I ran for council three years ago, I did not do it for the glory or because I needed to make new friends. I did it because Hubbard is the place I have called home for most of my life. Even though I have moved away a couple of times, I have always ended up back here. I went to North Marion, as did all three of my children. I remember the very first Hop Festival. I've lived behind the Hubbard Market, on J St., 4th and H, 5th St., and now on 3rd for the last 20+ years. Nearly 46 years have been spent in this town. That being said, my resignation is in protest: I protest the lying, the hostility, and the ugly behavior that has been displayed. These are people who do not question their local government for the greater good, they are people who instead criticize and attack for their own self-serving interests.
Therefore, on behalf of my own well-being and that of my colleagues and family, I can no longer be apart of this. My resignation is effective immediately.
Williams' complete statement
When I decided to run for City Council a year ago, there were 2 motivating factors:
1. Find out why the City was allowing an unlicensed marijuana processor to continue to operate directly across from City Hall and do something about it.
2. Ensure that City Councilors were not abusing their positions to serve their own interests.
Well, the marijuana processor is now licensed and still operating directly across from City Hall, and I am being accused of abusing my position to serve my own interests. What those interests are still have not been communicated as far as I can tell.
When Gerry Adcock, our interim Chief of Police, from the Marion County Sheriff's Office suggested that the City could save $200K/year, I felt duty bound to pursue a potential cost savings that was that significant. Gerry Adcock did not do anything unethical by initiating this proposal. Our budget is available online for anyone to analyze. To suggest that Gerry had access to "insider information" is ludicrous and embarrassing. Gerry Adcock is a leader and consummate professional. He and the MCSO had nothing to gain, financial or otherwise.
Hubbard has budgeted $968,400 for a Chief, a Sergeant, 3 Officers and an Admin for this fiscal year. The Marion County Sheriff's Office proposal was to have a Sergeant and 3 Deputies stationed in Hubbard for an annual cost of $678,041. This also falls in line with the 1 to 1.5 ratio of officers per 1,000 residents that is often used to determine adequate police coverage. The Chief and the Admin functions would have been handled by the Sheriff and his staff in Salem. That's where the bulk of the savings comes from, and that's why 4 deputies to 5 officers is the correct comparison. Unfortunately, the MCSO's proposal was presented to largely unreceptive audience.
You would think that Republicans, who are supposed to value fiscal conservancy, would have at least wanted to hear the proposal and wait for debate and analysis before coming to any conclusions. However, that did not happen. Civil discourse was shouted down immediately, by Hubbard Republicans. Any attempts at reason were met with false accusations and vitriol.
The biggest argument against contracting with MCSO was that we would lose local control. We're not talking about bureaucrats in Washington D.C. managing our police department. We're talking about an elected official and his staff in Salem. Many people in Hubbard work, shop and dine in Salem. If it's close enough for those activities, IT IS LOCAL. As far as control, since we don't have a City Manager (We can't afford one.), all of the department heads, including the Chief of Police, report directly to City Council, some of whom have little or no management experience. Plus, 60% of the City Council is up for reelection every 2 years. In other words, the City has inconsistent management from part-time, inexperienced volunteers. With MCSO there would have been several layers of chain of command above the Sergeant, which would have provided the citizens of Hubbard greater accountability and oversight, even with high turnover on City Council.
This was not a personal attack on HPD. Officer Anderson's and Officer Bentley's jobs were never at risk. The MCSO could have offered them better pay and greater opportunities for career advancement. These benefits also enable the MCSO to recruit and retain the best deputies. MCSO is a large organization. A small town like ours cannot compete with their benefits or their economies of scale.
It's true that the MCSO only requires a 2-year commitment from each deputy who serves in contract cities. However, deputies can reapply for duty in those cities as often as they want. It is up to those cities to provide an environment the deputies want to continue to serve in. I know there are some people that find comfort in having a personal relationship with law enforcement in their community. I am not one of those people. I believe there needs to be boundaries between the citizens and those that enforce the laws in order to maintain professionalism and objectivity.
Response times would NOT have been slower with MCSO. The MCSO would have kept the Hubbard Police Department Office open and staffed in its current location. Deputies would have responded to calls for service from City Hall and within the Hubbard City Limits, NOT from the MCSO in Salem.
Even if we had to eat the full $78K METCOM contract for this year that should not have been a deal breaker, as that would have only been a one-time charge and we would still be up $200K for the year. However, we would not have shown up to the table empty handed. Hubbard has assets, vehicles and equipment that have value, which I'm certain we could have used to negotiate down the first year of the contract with MCSO.
I'm sure some will say that these arguments are a moot point because the City has chosen to hire a Chief of Police. That's true. However, I want you to understand my reasoning for holding out on this issue for as long as I did. The fact is HPD was crippled when 3/5 of the department retired within the span of 5 months, not by anything the Mayor or I did.
My wife and I moved to Hubbard 10 years ago because we saw it's potential. We imagined a McMenamins, or some other brew pub, where the old pharmacy is and some cute shops in the "downtown" area. Imagine what we could have done with an extra $1/4 million or more every year! It would have been a game changer for our quality of life in Hubbard. We could have built a new City Hall/Community Center. We could have paved roads, added sidewalks and began work on infrastructure projects that have long been delayed because of budget constraints. We could have improved parks without needing a separate non-profit organization to solicit donations. We could have hired consultants to help us put a plan in place to recruit businesses to occupy vacant or underutilized properties, to strengthen and increase our tax base for long term economic stability and prosperity.
This was my agenda. If that makes me an awful person in some people's eyes, I'm OK with that.
Even after the decision by Council to reject the MCSO proposal, it is my belief that some members of Council, Staff and notable community members were still actively conspiring to attack and obstruct the Mayor. Last week we had a press release. The Mayor is supposed to be the spokesperson for the City; however, the Council President and Staff chose to have the city attorney make a statement to the press. We are not required to make statements to the press in order to meet a news station's deadline. They should have waited for the Mayor's input. Some of the language that was used in the press release and a previous statement to the Stewart's sounded condescending and that's not the image that I would want our city to project. If the mayor had used those same words, the pitchforks and torches would have come out from the same people that now defend those words.
At the last City Council meeting I asked to have a meeting to review current service contracts with the City so that Council could have a better understanding of the City's business practices. My suggestion was scoffed at. It is impossible to "promote harmonious and working relationships" under these conditions. Since I'm being recalled, and there is enough signatures (allegedly) to put it on the ballot, allow me to rip the band aid off so that the City can carry on without the distraction of a recall and my presence at City Council Meetings. Effective immediately, I resign my position as City Councilor of Hubbard.
Dan Estes' complete statement
When I received word of Councilor Brad Williams' resignation, on the heels of the resignation of both the Mayor and Councilor Shannon Schmidt, I realized that I no longer had the faith and confidence in the remaining city councilors to conduct public business in a transparent, accountable and ethical manner. As a volunteer, I feel that I should no longer represent the interests of a city body whose remaining two elected representatives sicken me with their divisiveness. And as a volunteer, I am free to decide how I spend my time and what behavior I will tolerate.
This was not an easy decision. When I moved to Hubbard 13 years ago, I saw tremendous potential and immediately started becoming involved. For the last 10 years, I have served on the Planning Commission, several of those years as the chair. This body has overseen expansions of the Urban Growth Boundary, zoning changes, code updates, and many applications from businesses and property owners to change or expand their property. Through it all, I have always prioritized citizen involvement, fairness, and respecting private property rights while balancing the needs of the city for growth and livability. I served these years to the best of my ability. I felt that it was my responsibility to participate in my city. This is the price we pay for living in a Republic and a sacrifice willingly made to make this town better. I'm sure not everyone agreed with every decision I made as planning commissioner, but I hope people feel they were treated kindly, fairly and respectfully in every circumstance, and that I was accountable.
Unfortunately, I have slowly watched an agenda unfold from our now-remaining elected officials and staff that gravely concerns me...an agenda promoted through blatant self-interest, and ignored by unacceptable disinterest.
Last year, the Planning Commission undertook a project to permit downtown property owners to re-zone their property to allow for expanded commercial use, in an attempt to revitalize our downtown and attract businesses that would have otherwise been unable. This opportunity was completely free and voluntary to any property owner who wanted to participate. However, one city councilor whose family also owned property and businesses in the proposed area, vehemently opposed this project, even thought they didn't have to participate at all. They went door to door, misrepresenting the project to property owners. She attacked me personally and called me a liar for my involvement. She said I tried to suppress public debate. Without any public explanation, she also voted no on the final approval of those properties that wished to voluntarily participate. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that they feel competition is a bad thing. The same people that told me that "Hubbard would never grow because Hubbard didn't WANT to grow" were the very people who were quietly, over the years, making sure that it never happened, or at least wouldn't conflict with their personal business interests, all while serving as mayor or councilor, or as a budget committee member.
This agenda was brought into sharp focus again when the conversation came up about police services in our town. This conversation had never been ALLOWED to happen in the past. Any such suggestion was met with harsh intimidation. Not even to talk about the pros and cons...an honest public discussion the way it's supposed to happen about public services and public money. But when the same business that holds the towing contract (that feeds money back into the police department) and the fueling contract and the vehicle maintenance contract for the city...those interests became very threatened. Those same interests have tried to prevent restaurants and food carts from coming into our city. As a planning commissioner, I was approached several times by Councilor Ruiz to start an investigation into "From Russia With Love," a small coffee/food stand in town, not far from the Burger Hut. Again, it appears they feel competition and choice are bad things when they already have a monopoly and they have the very opportunities they are working to deny others.
To my shame, I ignored these instances. I had hope for the future with new city councilors and a mayor that wanted to extend opportunities to others, and root out what I would describe as institutionalized corruption and a good ol' boy network. None more epitomized than by a police chief of 38 years whose departmental business relationship with these interests which could only be charitably described as uncomfortably cozy. Is it surprising that it was the former chief's son that launched the recall of the Mayor and Councilor Williams, and released my personal information to the public online, and has tried to allude that my decisions on planning commission are based in self-interest? Even the former chief's brother "supervised" the probation on one of Councilor Ruiz's felony charges in 2013...after she was elected to city council. Are these coincidences that would occur in any small town....or endemic of much larger problems of collusion and special interests that are afforded protection and favoritism at a level of city government otherwise unavailable to the average citizens? I guess we may never know. Three city councilors who had taken an unpopular stand against the status quo have now resigned in disgust and protest, and I join them.
In the last several months, my wife and I, alongside Councilor Williams and Councilor Schmidt have endured an endless onslaught of personal attacks, threats, intimidation, slander, innuendo and an orchestrated stream of venom from these interests, and those in the community who support them, or are simply ignorant of the facts. I have largely ignored these attacks, knowing that people sitting behind their keyboards, living to tear down other people are just an unfortunate reality in our world of unaccountable social media. There ARE good people in this town. But a core of a city is not the bricks and mortar of the buildings, or the asphalt on the streets. It is blood and sweat and voice of its people, and what we allow to happen will become our reality, good or bad. We cannot pretend to ignore what is wrong, or simply assume someone else will deal with it because we are too busy or don't want to risk anything. Good or bad, we own the outcome. And right now, that outcome is an unenviable loss of dedicated public servants and very likely a return to the festering cesspool of Hubbard's status quo of so many years.
I had great hope for this city 13 years ago, and that hope was renewed in January when these three recently resigned public servants shared my concerns and had a vision for helping this city in a myriad of ways, with positive ideas. Some day, good people may return to those positions, and if they do, you need to support them, and not those that seek to tear them down, either for corrupt self-interest, or malicious entertainment.
Effectively immediately, I am resigning my position on the City of Hubbard Planning Commission.